A DEPLETED Bradford Dragons team pushed Division One favourites Kent Crusaders to the limit but ultimately lost 79-76 in a tight National Basketball League encounter.

The Dragons were without the services of both American big-hitter Chis McGrew and Polish point-guard Maciek Koskiuk through injury, while Ryan Holmes was also left at home as he was suffering with a virus.

With Spanish player Miguel Lorenzo still away on study leave, Bradford were left with a squad of only eight players to make the long trip down to the Garden of England.

The scores were tied at 18 apiece at the end of the first quarter but the Dragons led by two points at 34-32 when the teams went back to the locker rooms at half-time.

Despite the home side then opening up a five-point lead midway through the penultimate period, the Dragons pulled it back again to go into the final period with a single-point advantage at 56-55.

But in the final quarter it was Kent that got themselves into the driving seat and, despite Bradford keeping the score close, they could not quite do enough to snatch the win.

Dragons captain Vance Silcott put in another man-of-the-match performance, scoring 22 points and taking 12 rebounds, while JP Davis added 17 points and veteran Jason Swaine scored 14, which included four of his trademark three-pointers.

Bradford head coach Chris Mellor said: "We put ourselves in a good position after three quarters but in the last ten minutes we were always playing catch-up by a few points.

"Every time we got close they managed to come up with a basket, and we had some sloppy turnovers which hurt us. They played well though and are as tough as anyone in this league."

The Dragons face another tough match this coming weekend when they travel to Reading Rockets for the reverse of the season's opening league fixture.

The first silverware of the 2014-15 campaign was handed out on Sunday, with Manchester Magic beating next week's opponents Reading 74-63 in the National Cup final.

Elsewhere for the Dragons, the under-16s beat Team Birmingham 88-64 on Saturday morning but then lost 95-81 to Sheffield Junior Saints on Sunday afternoon.

The under-14s faced Kilamarsh Derbyshire Arrows in a midday tip-off on Saturday, with Bradford running away with a 121-35 victory.